October 12 - The Istanbul 2020 bid team for the Olympic and Paralympic Games has made assurances that record-breaking investments to the transport infrastructure in the city in the coming years will solve all traffic problems that have been identified.
In the latest "Congestion Index" conducted by navigation producer TomTom, Istanbul has been revealed as the most congested peak-time city in Europe.
TomTom claims the Turkish city has come out as the most congested city in the continent because it has "encountered rapid economic growth but it has physical characteristics that make it challenging to navigate".
But the 2020 bid team feel confident that huge investments will counter the issue.
"Whilst Istanbul 2020 cannot comment on the specific data in the survey conducted by TomTom, it is clear that the survey does not take into consideration the massive record-breaking investment that is being made into transport infrastructure in Istanbul over the next 10 years," an Istanbul 2020 spokesperson told insidethegames.
"Istanbul's traffic congestion has risen in direct proportion to the phenomenal economic growth that Turkey has experienced over the last five years with average economic growth rates of over 8 per cent per annum – the highest in Europe.
"This has enabled the Turkish Government to invest over $1 billion (£620 million/€768 million) every year in transport infrastructure and public transport projects to ease congestion in Europe's largest city.
"This investment is set to continue until 2020 and beyond.
"Should Istanbul win the right to win to host the Games in 2020, this investment will increase and accelerate.
"The fruits of this investment are already being felt.
"For example, less than 10 weeks ago (after the TomTom survey was conducted), Istanbul opened the first metro line on the Asian side of the city.
"It has a capacity of 70,000 passengers per hour per direction and will result in the removal of 572 busses and 1,227 mini-busses and thousands of cars from daily traffic.
"This new line will also alleviate traffic congestion on the Asian side and improve the comfort and journey time of hundreds of thousands of spectators attending sports events at the proposed iconic Olympic venues on the Bosphorus.
"Other major traffic congestion easing projects due to be completed in time for 2020 include a third bridge crossing the Bosporus to relieve congestion in the crowded city.
"The project is estimated to cost $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion/€1.9 billion) and is planned to be completed by 2015."
Istanbul 2020 has already outlined its exclusive Games Lanes along the Games Route Network (GRN), as well as significant road projects that are fully leveraged in the transport plan, such as the planned Eurasia Tunnel.
In addition, it has discussed an intelligent traffic management system empowered by targeted upgrades to the existing, sophisticated, traffic management centre of Istanbul.
"Therefore, there will be a significant reduction in traffic congestion over the next eight years and so by Games time in 2020, all members of the Olympic Family and all Games time visitors will enjoy a comfortable and fast journey between Olympic venues and accommodations," said the spokesperson.
"In particular, athletes are assured of an average journey time of 20 minutes or less."
The comments come shortly after Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş promised that all traffic problems would end by 2016.
"In 2016 the residents of Istanbul will no longer have traffic problems," he said.
"By that time, most of the line will be completed, new buses will be provided and minibus systems will change.
"Also taxis will work more systematically.
"Urban transportation will become much easier."
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